If not for cell phone video, 47-year-old disabled veteran Douglas Dendinger could be going to prison — because of an apparent coordinated effort by Washington Parish, La. cops and prosecutors who falsely accused him of battery and witness intimidation.
As New Orleans’ WWL reports, Dendinger’s two-year nightmare began on Aug. 20, 2012, when he was paid $50 to serve a court summons on behalf of his nephew against Bogalusa police officer Chad Cassard in a police brutality lawsuit.
Dendinger handed Cassard a white envelope containing the documents and says he went on his way. But 20 minutes later, police showed up to Dendinger’s house and arrested him. He was put in jail on charges of simple battery, obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness.
Two of those charges are felonies, and a prior cocaine conviction on Dendinger’s record threatened to land him in jail for a long time as a repeat offender.
But Dendinger was confident that a mistake had been made and that he would be released without cause since two prosecutors and several police officers had seen him hand over the summons peacefully. How to Beat The Police... Check Amazon for Pricing.
But that’s not what happened.
A year after the incident, then-District Attorney Walter Reed brought charges against Dendinger. His case was backed by two prosecutors who asserted that Dendinger had assaulted Cassard. Seven witness statements also supported the case.
Cassard made the same claim, writing in a voluntary statement that Dendinger “slapped him in the chest” when he served the summons.
Pamela Legendre, a staff attorney who witnessed the hand-off, said she thought Dendinger had punched Cassard.
Bogalusa police chief Joe Culpepper said that Dendinger had used “violence” and “force.”
And another witness said in a deposition that Dendinger used such force when he served the summons that Cassard flew back several feet.
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